Webcomic WIP Pages with Clip Studio, While America Burns

I don’t post much about politics these days. I’ve avoided it since 2016. My girlfriend didn’t even vote that year–one of those millennials who just got too busy. Some friends voted for Bernie–you know, as a protest vote. And then, a few people whom I admired for their intelligence, who also thought Trump dangerous and unsuitable as a leader, ended up voting for him as an ends justifies the means. I didn’t find any of that rational or honorable. But what did my attempt at rational discussion matter to these friends and family? It didn’t, so I don’t. If like me, you usually avoid politics, just skip the next section. I talk about the webcomic in the second part.

While America Burns

While America burns, I’m trying to get work done. It’s tough for all of us. First Covid19 and social distancing, now protests and curfews. It’s been a terrible year for the haves. Pretty much on par for the have-nots. It’s just that many of us have never seen how hard it is for many Americans to get by, huh?

I hope something better will emerge in the years to come. I hope neoliberalism is dying. Don’t confuse that word to mean “liberals”. Your conservative party is also neoliberal. It is a process, an approach. American prosperity belongs to conglomerates and banks who distract the rest of us with social issues as they take one group of us or the other to their side, like a parent playing favorites when it suits them. The GOP makes cis white men feel special, so that even poor, uneducated blue color workers will vote Republican, though the GOP works against their economic futures on every front: limiting their income, education, unions, health care, and environmental regulation (like their water supply). The Democrats do this, too, with LGBTQ, for example. The party system is all we currently have to work with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be critical thinkers and resist the party line. I may be forced to vote Democrat because of my priorities, but there are many things the Dems have wrong and many lies they perpetrate, as well. Politics is a dirty business.

I admire those people out there putting their bodies in harm’s way. Since I can’t do that, I donate, advocate, and try my best to acknowledge the sacrifices others make. In case you wonder, I’m firmly behind the protesters and won’t say much about the looting other than it’s not an excuse for the violence perpetrated by the authorities.

The thing many people don’t reflect on is that we hold authority to a higher standard simply because it has the state-sanctioned right to harm, imprison, or kill. Authority (police, soldiers, mayors, presidents, etc) do not have the right to react with anger or revenge or excessive violence to manage a situation.

This is the expectation of authority wherever it is found. We expect more of parents, teachers, doctors, referees, of anyone with power over another.

My partner was once a state level soccer referee, taking whatever abuse fans and athletes offered, even threats, without a word in reply. Same for me working in the schools. The kids can say and do what they want, even tearing rooms apart, and I have to simply wait them out. If they attack another kid, my steps are to get everyone out of harm’s way, and I can insert myself between them, but I can’t actually restrain the child.

So I check in on the news, donate online, and otherwise try to focus on my life and my goals the rest of the time.

There’s Also Art

This week, I’ve been working on several pages for the Demonrise Webcomic at the same time. Roughs, inking, shadow. Once I have the basics down, I can try different styles. I tend to start with flat vivid colors, traditional comicbook style, but I may test a more watercolor look.

Clip Studio (CSP) has worked well.

I started out using the comic book pages feature. You can preset page size and other aspects of the comic book. It’s really marvelous, in theory. The program holds all the pages together and provides the correct print sequence. I found it clunky, actually. But that may be just because I’m not used to it.

My process is so organic, not assembly line. I don’t do all the roughs, then ink them, then color. I sometimes start in with inks or colors or even redo entire panels from scratch when the rest of the page is complete. The advantage of being the sole creator.

The disadvantage of being the sole creator is how long the whole process takes! I’ve been spending a work week on each page. I mean an actual 40 hours. As I get used to CSP and decide on a final process, I’m hoping that speeds up a little.

I liked the framing tool at first. It was cool to just “slice” a border in. When creating the panel frames, you can get perfect lines and spacing. The tool even sets up a mask set using the frame so your work is always behind it. However, I have so many layers that I don’t want to add a different set of layers for each panel. I keep all inks on one layer, then all colors, then all shadows. I just keep my custom made frame above the art and below the marks and text balloons.

When I start publishing the finished pages at Demonrise, I’ll post an anatomy of the page here for those of you interested.